When you ship hazardous materials, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires you to affix certain marks, labels, and sometimes placards onto your packages. These hazmat communications ensure that the carriers like truck drivers and train operators, as well as emergency responders, know what is inside of a package without having to open it. This information is particularly crucial, and potentially life-saving, in emergency situations.
Most shippers—and even the public—are aware of the most common hazmat marks and labels. For instance, Class 3 Flammable Liquid labels or Class 8 Corrosive
labels are seen every day on US roads—if you drive to work via any major highway, chances are good that you passed a truck sporting Class 3 placards this morning. Marks like
orientation arrows are also very common and found on nearly all fiberboard boxes.
But what about the more obscure
marks and labels that shippers and the public rarely see? These lesser-known marks and labels deserve a chance in the spotlight—you never know when recognizing one of these could help you or your employees manage a dangerous situation.
New DOT Class 9 Lithium Battery Label
DOT has introduced a Class 9 label specifically designed for lithium battery shipments
. An important aspect to this is that this label is only required for fully regulated
lithium batteries. Excepted lithium battery shipments would not use this label.
At the moment, this label may be a little more obscure since it is so new, but soon enough, the new Class 9 label will be seen much more frequently as shippers transition to using it.
As of January 1, 2019, the new lithium battery label is now required on fully regulated shipments.
[49 CFR 172.447]
Are you a lithium battery expert? Try this quiz: How Much Do You Know About Lithium Batteries?
January 2020 Hazmat Training: Catch complete multimodal hazmat ground, air, and vessel shipper training in Hartford, Boston, Central NJ, and Philadelphia next month. US DOT PHMSA requires training for all hazmat employees once every three years (49 CFR 172.704).
Keep Away From Heat Handling Mark
The Keep Away from Heat
handling mark is a little less common. This hazmat label is required only in a very specific situation–it’s required when you offer self-reactive substances of Division 4.1 or organic peroxides of Division 5.2 for transport by aircraft.
[49 CFR 172.317]
Inhalation Hazard Mark
Although the Inhalation Hazard marking is not all that common,
it’s fairly straightforward when one would see this on a hazmat package–when a poison has an inhalation hazard.
We tend to think of inhalation hazards as poisonous gases, but it’s critical to remember that a liquid or solid can bear this marking if it can give off vapors, mists, or dusts that have toxic inhalation hazards.
Shippers may also purchase hazard labels with these words pre-printed on them. When the words “inhalation hazard” appear on the hazmat label, the additional marking is not required.
[49 CFR 172.313]
Oxygen Label and Placard and Gasoline/Fuel Oil Placards
We’ve included these labels and placards since they are special. Typically, labels and placards do not mention specific materials and stay more general in nature.
However, you can see oxygen has its own label and placard while gasoline and fuel oil have their own specific placards as well. While these aren’t as common as the generic Class 2 or Class 3 labels, there’s really nothing to get confused about with these.
[49 CFR 172.405, 172.530, 172.542, 172.544]
HOT Mark for Elevated Temperature Materials
The HOT marking would be required for shipments that contain “elevated temperature materials”–in essence, things that are hot. The HOT marking is not seen as often as others, because it’s only required when shipping these materials in bulk
Bulk packages containing elevated temperature materials must bear the HOT marking in black or white Gothic lettering on a contrasting background, on two opposing sides of the package. The marking may appear on the packaging itself, or on a placard-sized, white square-on-point configuration.
[49 CFR 172.325]
Category B Infectious Substances Mark
Unless you work for a hospital or lab, your hazmat employees probably don't recognize this marking. The “UN3373” mark is specific to Category B Infectious Substances.
Category B Infectious Substances are potentially infectious but are in a form that is not generally capable of causing permanent disability or life-threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans. This includes infectious substances transported for diagnostic or investigative purposes.
[49 CFR 173.199]
Need hazmat training to ship infectious substances? Check out the Shipping Infectious Substances (and Dry Ice) Online Course, streamlined for employees responsible for shipping hazmat from a hospital, doctor’s office, or research facility.
Another label specific to infectious substances is the Biohazard label. Now, before you say “This isn’t obscure. I see this all the time!”–we’re talking about the DOT Biohazard label here.
In fact, DOT’s biohazard label is very uncommon—regulated medical waste typically bears an OSHA
biohazard mark (which looks strikingly similar, but may also appear on a red background.)
The DOT biohazard label is also required on bulk packages of infectious substances, another rare occurrence.
[49 CFR 172.323]
Even if you don’t know what “fissile” means, perceptive shippers can figure out that this label is used for certain radioactives since it bears a “7” in the bottom corner—and Class 7 is the radioactive hazard class.
Due to the complicated nature of when shippers must use this for radioactive shipments, we’re not going to go into detail about the requirements here.
If you ship radioactives, feel free to reach out to us at Lion Technology for help parsing these complex regulations.
[49 CFR 172.441]
When employees see this label, they may assume it is a generic label for empty packages. However, this label is actually required for packages that previously held radioactive material.
The DOT has issued a letter of interpretation that says you can use this label for packages that contained materials other than radioactives. That said, it’s a safer bet to avoid using this label altogether if you’re not dealing with Class 7 materials.
[49 CFR 172.450]
DOT Chart 16
If you’d like to see all of the hazardous materials marks, labels, and placards, US DOT maintains a great resource available to the public called Chart 16. Chart 16 is now also available as a mobile application for your smartphone.
Check out DOT’s hazmat Chart 16 here.
Hazmat Labels & Placards from Lion
To make it easier to get what you need to comply with 49 CFR, IATA DGR, and IMDG Code regulations, Lion will launch a line of hazardous materials labels, placards, and other markings for 2020.
From Class 1–9 hazmat labels to markings for unique situations, find the labels you need to keep your shipments moving at Lion.com/Labels.